One always desires to feel included and wanted—even academic deans. At various meetings during my first year at Kuyper College, people have shared how long they have served at the institution. Going around the room, a wide variety of responses was given as some said seven years, others 15 years, and I have responded on several occasions; in four more years, I will have been at Kuyper for five years. While very new to it, I thought it was a humorous way to show a desire to be part of the culture.
Being wanted and included are common human feelings and needs. Yet, how do we develop the ability to connect with others whose views differ from ours? How do we civilly get along with people in a tension-filled world? In a broader sense, how do we stay relevant during the significant social issues and questions of our times while communicating with a biblical, Reformed worldview in the marketplace of public opinion?
We live in a post-truth, post-modern world where content has no absolute meaning and truth is open to multiple perspectives being as valid as any other point of view. In such an environment, I have found that most people respect two traits: authenticity and passion. They may disagree with you, but if you honestly and transparently share your life story with passion and are real, most people will at least give you a listen.
For example, my friend Pierre is unlike me in many ways—ethnicity, political ideology, and sexual orientation; yet, we are able to understand one another’s viewpoints. We find common ground by allowing the other to be authentic and passionate in their beliefs. It doesn’t lessen the distance between some of our thoughts and positions. But our openness enables us to share coffee, discuss politics, and consider the issues of life, including spirituality and faith.
It comes down to allowing one another to be authentic and passionate as we interact, as we trust one another with our thoughts, emotions, words, and actions. The point of relationships is the ability to share the hope within us with others. It works, and it will work for you. So give it a try and impact those with whom you interact by breathing life and hope into all relationships. It will allow you to live out the words of the Apostle Paul, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)
“In My Words” is a feature of the Kuyper College News highlighting first-person stories by Kuyper College faculty and staff.